The Internet Superhero

​Evolution of the Dark Web: How Big a Security Risk is It now?

Published 31/01/2018 in Internet Security - 18 Comments
Evolution of the dark web

Browsing on the internet is like visiting the forest. It is a place where you can find juicy, nutritious fruit and beautiful springs and animals. However, you can also find snakes, poisonous mushrooms and get in really creepy places. For most cases, the creepy, dangerous places on the internet is found in the Dark web. The dark web is infamously known for facilitating illegal activities such as drug trafficking, hiring of hit-men and underage pornography. These sites are normally operated by IT pros. These gurus operate them under pseudonyms and whom the authorities find it hard to track down. But how do these sites work and why are they so different to the rest of the sites we see? To understand more about such sites, it is better to first understand the evolution of the dark web.

Surface Web vs Deep Web

Evolution of the Dark Web and Hackers

Creepy looking man with bar code beamed on his face.

There is a great volume of information held within the internet. The mechanism by which users add or retrieve information from them is very straightforward. Users key in a string of words or a link on a standard search engine. The search engine retrieves any information which matches the search according to their index. Information which is indexed and can be retrieved by these engines collectively make up the Surface Web.

Most of the internet, however, is not accessible to the public. It entails sensitive information such as government and military data, and it makes up around 96% of the internet data. Collectively, this part of the internet is called the Deep Web.

What Is the Dark Web?

Dark web is a small part of what makes the deep web. It is a section of the internet which is infamous for being utilized for illegal activity, especially the trafficking of drugs and arms. The dark web maintains its untracked status using various technologies. Dynamic pages, for instance, require specific querying to access, rendering them anonymous to those without the correct forms. The pages are standalone and are not linked to any other information within the internet. The lack of HTML based content further enhances the anonymity, alongside the use of special software such as Tor and l2P.

THE EVOLUTION of the Dark Web: In the Beginning

Evolution of the dark web traces back to the birth of the internet at DARPA, where a connection between two computers is first made. Within a few years since that connection, secretive networks had begun forming alongside what was then DARPANET. These secretive networks eventually get termed “darknets”. By the early 1990s, the internet had a standardized protocol suite. This was accompanied by plummeting storage costs due to improved file compression technologies. The improved software subsequently led to a burst of illegal activities via the internet, and the free distribution of copyrighted content was on the rise.

Dark Web Software: THE PLATFORM THAT POWERED THE EVOLUTION OF THE DARK WEB

Evolution of the Dark Web and Tor

The Onion Router (Tor)

The year 2000 saw the emergence of software such as Ian Clarke’s Freenet which provides an anonymous gateway to the dark web. HavenCo, created by Ryan Lackey and Sean Hastings, was another popular software which hosted restricted data but tumbled later on. 2002 was an important year in the evolution of the dark web which saw the emergence of the dark web as we know of today. “The Onion Router” (Tor) was created by the U.S. Naval Research Lab. It was created to protect American Ops communications in countries where they had been assigned. Dark web users, however, took advantage of this new network. As a result, almost all the dark web activities run on it. By 2005, it was estimated that there were up to 10,000 dark web users. This was accompanied with over half a million video productions being distributed each day.

The Age of Cryptocurrency: Financial Boost to Take the Evolution OF THE DARK WEB to the Next Level

Evolution of the Dark Web and Cryptocurrency

Bitcoin Cryptocurrency Sign

2009 was another important milestone for the evolution of the dark web. It saw the introduction of untraceable cryptocurrency by an anonymous entity that called itself Satoshi Nakamoto. The currency, now known as Bitcoin, runs on a public ledger which is robust and eliminated the problem of double spending by users. Bitcoin was quickly adapted by users of the dark web because of its untraceable characteristic. Money laundering and illegal business transactions became easier to accomplish. With this new currency in place, the dark web continued to expand to host hundreds of thousands of websites. Half of these were extremist websites and over three-hundred terrorist websites. Moreover, these sites were mostly funded by the illegal sale of pirated digital material.

Call to Action

With the increased criminal activity taking place within the dark web, various authorities began to take action and attempted to put an end to some activities. The first breakthrough was from the Irish administration in August 2013, when they raided an apartment belonging to Eric Eoin Marques in Dublin, a man believed to be the largest facilitator of child pornography in the whole of the dark web. Around the same time, communications between the chief of Al-Qaeda al-Zawahiri and the head of Yemeni-based al-Qaeda Nasir al-Wuhayshi were intercepted by the U.S. government, leading to a shuttering of over 21 U.S. embassies based on Muslim soil.

In October the same year, Silk Road, the then largest marketplace for drugs in the dark web, was shut down by the U.S. government and its owner arrested. Several other take downs have occurred since then. Hackers, national and international law enforcement bodies revealed that access to information about these websites was acquired through exploration of vulnerabilities within user interface software such as web browsers.

Current Situation

Evolution of the Dark Web and Hacking

The Dark web is now becoming synonymous with hacking

Rapid advancement in technology is making it both increasingly easy to access the dark web. It is also making it increasingly easy for authorities to take down sites associated with illegal activities. Technologies such as virtual port networks are being used to strengthen anonymity in the dark web. Current marketplaces on the dark web such as Ground Zero are using trust test technologies to verify new users. Trust tests work by requesting a hacker to target a specific site. The hackers are then required acquire the credentials of the site administrator. These details are then sent to the Ground Zero administrator. Access is granted once the information sent has been verified.

With the number of major take downs that have occurred in the past five years, marketplaces seem to be regrouping and implementing technical trial and error techniques. This is so that they can find the most untraceable way of running businesses online. With the amount of funding being generated through piracy, dark web markets are sure to employ more robust measures into protecting and expanding their territories.

18 comments

Er. Arbab Khan - 08/02/2018 Reply

Nice article.
keep it up.

Simon - 15/02/2018 Reply

The deep web sounds like another world, far away to which I would like to be a part of. It’s quite staggering that users like myself are only using 4% of the web considering the amount of businesses and bloggers involved. I’m shocked to learn 96% is government and military based confidential information, certainly an eye opener for me. I have heard of Tor, due to many times being mentioned on the media but why use it unless you’re searching for illegal products / information or am I missing something?
Thanks for your insight into the deep web, I’ve learnt so much I simply wasn’t aware of.
Simon.

    The Internet Samurai - 15/02/2018 Reply

    Thank you, Simon.
    Tor is a kind of a network within the internet. It is mainly used for its anonymity and as such it is an attractive tool for use by person who want to do illegal activities. However, Tor is not used only for illegal things. It is also used by respected professionals such as journalists and activists when it is in the best interests of their clients to remain anonymous.
    Please subscribe if you would like more information on the dark web.

King Kong's Girl - 15/02/2018 Reply

Wow, I can’t find the word to describe how humanity has evolved to the point of abusing one another. Sure, we’re all doing our best to satisfy our needs and wants, and that technology has made it easier to achieve, but it sure did also make it easier to do undesirable things. I haven’t dug deep like this into the evolution of dark webs, thanks for this information, was a great read. Keep it up!

Rick - 15/02/2018 Reply

Ok, I’ve heard about the dark web but now you’ve scarred the crap out of me. I don’t want anything to do with it but I’m curious how it is so widely used yet none of the “non-criminal” friends of mine have no idea about. How did something get so big without everyone knowing how to access it?

    The Internet Samurai - 15/02/2018 Reply

    I have one answer for you Rick… Anonymity. Unlike the surface web, where people want publicity for their sites (that’s why the huge effort to get indexed by search sites), the deep web prefer to stay anonymous. The activities that are associated with this part of the internet are best left anonymous, and it should be that way.

Deborah - 15/02/2018 Reply

Hi,
I have dug quite deep on occasions and its really quite scary, I am into all the Anonymous stuff. I am an avid follower of Julian Assange. I am more for the greater good than Evil. I find it quite scary that the internet is Like the Ocean. We are only just getting into the ocean but the darker the ocean goes and the deeper we get it gets really scary. It really is as deep as our oceans and seas. I am in to all of this kind of thing. Thank you for sharing. You can count me in as an avid follower.
Regards Deborah

    The Internet Samurai - 15/02/2018 Reply

    Yes, that’s true… The internet is a huge ocean and it is difficult to fathom its capability. It’s infrastructure is so complex and widespread that many of our law enforcement agencies can find hard to crack. However, I see this as a good thing as it is decentralized system and therefore it is very hard for a ‘dictator’ to take control.
    I appreciate your comment and I will post more of such content in the future.
    Thank you.

Luna - 15/02/2018 Reply

I usually avoid reading stories about the Dark Web. There is so many illegal stuff taking place that sometimes I think I will be better off not knowing.I am not sorry that I read this article I got a lot of information from it. It is obvious that a lot of research went into it.
This is an informative article Your website is really helpful.

    The Internet Samurai - 15/02/2018 Reply

    I understand your decision. There are a lot of scary things associated with it, but there are many ways in which you can protect yourself from it. I am glad you like it though. Cheers!

Jerry Huang | Smart Affiliate Success - 15/02/2018 Reply

Wow, your posts are always interesting to read. I’m learning new things from your post because I won’t find anything elsewhere like what you share here. Didn’t know there’s a thing called dark web and so many things are happening. This is a great eye-opener. Thanks again! Keep up the good work 🙂

    The Internet Samurai - 15/02/2018 Reply

    Thanks a lot. I will keep on posting related content.

mercy - 15/02/2018 Reply

Your article on Dark Web is the best display on what is happening on our web nowadays something also that becoming serious is the Cyberbullying this is one thing that has caused lives and it also demoralizes people keep writing great articles.

    The Internet Samurai - 15/02/2018 Reply

    I agree with you. I have heard of people taking their own lives due to cyber-bullying. However, I am not sure if there are ways that have been proposed as solutions to prevent this. I will have a look at it.

Kristy Laurel - 16/02/2018 Reply

Wow! That was super interesting! I learned so much that I’ve kind of heard in my last but never got the real knowledge. Well done!!

    The Internet Samurai - 16/02/2018 Reply

    Thanks Kristy. It was meant to be an easy read

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